United by a love of footwork

5th December 1997 at 00:00
It's a goal!'' You can just feel the excitement and energy that explodes around a football park, among players and spectators, when the cry goes up. Well, that's what the dance production Goal and its accompanying schools workshops are trying to capture.

The artistic inspiration behind Goal - due to start its Scottish tour in Edinburgh on March 2 - is Kerri Jeffrey, a 24-year-old dance teacher and football fanatic. As a dancer trained in Russian ballet and a supporter of Hibernian, she fully appreciates the parallels between her art form and the sport.

Kerri has gone on to apply football's basic qualities of strength, co-ordination and agility in many of her creative workshops with young people and with her own award-winning youth dance company, Peebles Youth Dance (PYD). She has also gone as far as choreographing a piece about football for an all-girl group.

Working with her is dance producer Susan Crowther, who earlier this year found funding and a team of top professional male dancers to produce a taster and video to promote the show which will run, like a football match, for 45 minutes each side, with a 15-minute interval.

Susan is no stranger to setting up innovative projects. A former soloist with Scottish Ballet, she ran a commercial youth jazz dance company in California, single-handedly set up the youth company Spring which ran in Edinburgh for two years in the Eighties, and until recently was Scottish Ballet's first and only full-time dance artist-in-residence, working with schools in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

It was with Kerri, a former Spring protege, that Susan went to her first football match. "I could really appreciate not only the beauty but the excitement of the game,'' she says.

The Scottish audition for the 17-strong all-male cast of Goal was held last month. Leading the audition was former Hearts star John Colquhoun, now rector of Edinburgh University and chairman of Goal Education Ltd (GEL), the education arm of the show, set up to "dissolve the boundaries between art and sport''.

The show itself promises to capture the intense passion and energy of football not only through movement but through composer Brian Prentice's original score, and a series of video and computer graphic images of football action. Show marketeers Connexus Sponsorship and Media, funded by Lothian and Edinburgh Enterpise, are promising T-shirts, Goal branding, and something that could have the impact of Riverdance.

Each Kick Start workshop will be led by a male Goal dancer who will work with a musician and class teacher. It will have the structure of a conventional workshop, complete with warm-up exercises and group creative work.

"It will introduce dance to youngsters in a way that has not been done before,'' says Kerri. It will pick up on movements to be used within the main production such as the ritualistic exuberance with which players greet a goal, and on concepts and issues like team work, accessibility, gender, stardom and failure, all of which underpin the sport.

Publicity for the Kick Start workshops accompanying the show's tour of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen has already gone out to schools.

Goal and GEL, which will be backed by private sponsorship, are set to run and run, promises Kerri. The tour may be extended and there will always be football fixtures to keep alive the relevance of the accompanying education pack which will highlight links to the 5-14 expressive arts curriculum. The pack can be used by teachers of PE, dance, art, media, music, drama and personal and social education. A Goal newsletter and an interactive Website for schools is also planned. "This is no flash in the pan,'' Kerri stresses.

Kick Start costs Pounds 50 per workshop, which also entitles participants to concessionary tickets for the show.

For further information about Goal, Gel and Kick Start, tel: 01896 831157

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